Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday signed a bill allowing teachers and education staff to carry guns in schools with just 24 hours of training.
The new law drastically reduces the amount of training that staffers across the state need to undergo before they’re allowed to carry firearms on school grounds.
Previously, teachers and staff in Ohio were required to have 700 hours of training — in line with peace officer requirements — before school boards could grant them approval to be armed on school grounds.
DeWine said the measure, called House Bill 99, had been in the works since last year — but the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 elementary school kids and two teachers dead “certainly increased the urgency to enact it.”
The new law, which will still require individuals to be approved by school boards, is more practical than the previous standard, the governor argued.
“My office worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety and to ensure training requirements were specific to a school environment and contained significant scenario-based training,” DeWine said upon the bill’s passage.
Teachers and staffers will be required to be trained on how to stop an active shooter and de-escalate violent situations, as well as undergo simulated training exercises.
DeWine insisted local districts would be able to prohibit firearms on school grounds if they choose.
“This does not require any school to arm teachers or staff,” he said. “Every school will make its own decision.”
Ohio teachers’ unions were among those who had urged the governor to veto the bill, arguing putting guns in the hands of people not adequately trained was “dangerous.”
“In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Ohio lawmakers are rushing to take action to address school safety concerns in our state. The Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers want to be clear: House Bill 99 will make Ohio’s students less safe in their schools,” the unions said in a statement.
“The safety of Ohio’s students and educators is our utmost priority, but we know putting more guns into school buildings in the hands of people who have woefully inadequate training — regardless of their intentions — is dangerous and irresponsible.”
They added, “Teachers and other school employees should not be asked to serve dual roles as educators and school safety personnel armed with weapons, but, if they are, rigorous training standards, as set under current Ohio law, are essential.”